I like reading. Books. I used to think I was quite well-read, but then I grew up. I know I’m still missing a number of classics, and I want to remedy that. When I found Image Journal‘s Top 100 a year or so ago, I couldn’t resist. I printed it out, highlighted the scant few I’d read, and began tackling a few more. I haven’t made much progress since then — my day job was getting in the way of any reading — but maybe I’m ready to start again. I was, in part, prompted to take up the fun task again when I found cosymakesentry regarding the list this week.

Here’s the list: (bolding if I’ve read it (or bits and pieces of it), italicizing if it’s toward the top of my to-read list; and I put an alternate book by the same author behind (they only allowed one book/author) if I’ve read another book and liked it. I also have starred the names of those (few) I own.

W.H. Auden Collected Poems
Georges Bernanos The Diary of a Country Priest
Wendell Berry Sabbaths
John Berryman 77 Dream Songs
Doris Betts Souls Raised from the Dead
Leon Bloy The Woman Who Was Poor
Heinrich Boll The Stories of Heinrich Boll
Robert Bolt A Man for All Seasons
Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes
George Mackay Brown Selected Poems
Frederick Buechner Godric
Scott Cairns Recovered Body
* Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop
G.K. Chesterton The Man Who Was Thursday
Paul Claudel The Satin Slipper
Elizabeth Dewberry Many Things Have Happened Since He Died
Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Andre Dubus Selected Stories
* T.S. Eliot Four Quartets — Wasteland
Alice Thomas Ellis The Sin Eater
Shusaku Endo Silence
William Everson Collected Poems (The Residual Years; The Veritable Years)
Horton Foote The Trip to Bountiful
Christopher Fry The Lady’s Not for Burning
Denise Giardina Saints and Villains
Jose Maria Gironella The Cypresses Believe in God
Julien Green Diaries
Graham Greene The Power and the Glory
Patricia Hampl Virgin Time
Ron Hansen Mariette in Ecstasy
Mark Helprin A Soldier of the Great War
Oscar Hijuelos Mr. Ives’ Christmas
Geoffrey Hill The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy
Edward Hirsch Earthly Measures
Paul Horgan Great River
Andrew Hudgins The Neverending
John Irving A Prayer for Owen Meany
Josephine Jacobsen In the Crevice of Time: New and Selected Poems
Mark Jarman Questions for Ecclesiastes
Elizabeth Jennings Collected Poems
David Jones The Anathemata
*Nikos Kazantzakis The Last Temptation of Christ
Thomas Keneally Three Cheers for the Paraclete
William Kennedy Ironweed
Wally Lamb I Know This Much is True
Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies — I’m almost through Bird by Bird.
Madeleine L’Engle A Wrinkle in Time — I’ve read nearly all of her work
Denise Levertov The Stream and the Sapphire
Philip Levine The Mercy
C.S. Lewis Till We Have Faces — Narnia series among others
Torgny Lindgren Light
Robert Lowell Lord Weary’s Castle
Paul Mariani Salvage Operations
Francois Mauriac Vipers’ Tangle
Alice McDermott Charming Billy
Thomas Merton Collected Poems
Vassar Miller If I Had Wheels or Love: Collected Poems
Walter Miller A Canticle for Leibowitz
Czeslaw Milosz Collected Poems
Brian Moore Black Robe
Robert Morgan The Truest Pleasure
*Malcolm Muggeridge Chronicles of Wasted Time
Edwin Muir Complete Poems
Les Murray Collected Poems
* Kathleen Norris Dakota
Patrick O’Brian The Aubrey/Maturin Novels
Flannery O’Connor Short Stories
Virginia Stem Owens If You Do Love Old Men
Katherine Paterson Jacob Have I Loved
Charles Peguy The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc
* Walker Percy The Moviegoer
David Plante The Francoeur Trilogy
Chaim Potok My Name is Asher Lev
J.F. Powers The Presence of Grace
Reynolds Price Three Gospels
Richard Rodriguez Hunger of Memory
Dorothy Sayers The Mind of the Maker — I’ve read nearly all of the Lord Peter Whimsey-Harriet Vane mysteries
Ignazio Silone Bread and Wine
Louis Simpson New and Selected Poems
Isaac Bashevis Singer Collected Stories
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Muriel Spark Memento Mori
Tom Stoppard Hapgood
John Heath Stubbs Collected Poems
Allen Tate Collected Poems
*J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings — The Hobbit
Anne Tyler Saint Maybe
*Sigrid Undset Kristin Lavransdatter
John Updike In the Beauty of the Lillies
Peter de Vries The Blood of the Lamb
Dan Wakefield Returning
Walter Wangerin Jr. The Book of the Dun Cow
Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited
Elie Wiesel Night
Richard Wilbur New and Collected Poems
Charles Williams All Hallows’ Eve
A.N. Wilson Wise Virgin
* Tim Winton Cloudstreet
Larry Woiwode Beyond the Bedroom Wall
Tobias Wolff In the Garden of the North American Martyrs

Wow, that’s a long, overwhelming list! If there was ever any doubt that I need to get reading, this should quell it. Where should I start? Suggestions?

This is probably a topic for a future post, but I’ve been musing about poetry recently. I’m not a great lover of poetry, for whatever reason. I do like Eliot’s work, and I enjoy Shakespeare’s plays and my share of sonnets, but I feel deficient in the arena of poetry.

UPDATE: I’ve updated the formating on the list above, and I will continue to do so, periodically, so it remains a somewhat accurate list of my status toward the list. I thought that was better than reposting it, with updated bolding and italics.


13 responses to “Books

  1. Ah, Tobias Wolf (does the last name really have two “fs?”) was one of the authors we read in my narrative writing class — a name I couldn’t come up with when we talked about it a couple weeks ago.

  2. That’s how Image Journal spelled it …

  3. I downloaded a similar list ( ) about a year ago for the same type of project. The one thing I did that transformed my ability to absorb all that fine literature was to start listening to audiobooks. I bought an iPod then started scanning my library’s audiobook collection.

    I am currently listening to “Return of the Native” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (and have consumed so many, such as” Mme Bovary, Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Main St., House of Mirth, etc) when I am running, driving, gardening, throwing the ball at the dog park, etc. It’s great too for when my hubby wants to sleep and I want to read. I can “read” with the lights off!


  4. one of my most recent reads from this list was a novel about the life of dietrich bonhoeffer (Denise Giardina – Saints and Villains). i didn’t really expect to find it to be amazing, but it really was a beautiful book.

  5. I have carried around one such list (Image Journal’s top 100 of 20th century) in my purse for seven years. Too bad I often choose ‘easy reading’ over the good stuff. Thanks for posting it–I’ll copy it if don’t mind–it may have some stuff my list doesn’t.

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